Palliative care aims to improve the quality of life of people with terminal illnesses by managing pain and distressing symptoms. With the population ageing and the need for palliative care on the rise, health services face increasing pressure to manage the often complex needs of patients, their carers and families, often in home settings.
This audit assessed whether Victorians with a terminal illness have access to high‑quality palliative care that is timely, coordinated, and responsive to their needs and wishes. The audit examined the policies and procedures of the Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) and four health services.
The audit found that DHHS has set a clear and ambitious agenda for the palliative care sector but there is room for improvement. In recent years access to services has improved. However some metropolitan community-based services are struggling to cope with demand.
Greater focus is also needed on supporting carers and families. While there have been improvements in areas such as after-hours support for carers and families, further work is needed to ensure carers and families can access support at critical times. In particular, respite provision and access to psychosocial support remain major priorities.